Abstract

Although history suggests that conjure is a practice hidden from plain view, Zora Neale Hurston's ethnographies unearthed the pervasive and varied ways Black people throughout the diaspora—and Black women especially—used conjure to create a new reality or to disrupt the existing one. In this essay, we revisit Hurston's ethnographic and folkloric study Mules and Men to consider the question: What does it mean for Black women in America to conjure in modernity? We use ethnographic examinations of two contemporary locales—one of Florida's fantasy corridors and the South Carolina lowcountry—to unearth how contemporary Black women draw from the conjure tradition Hurston documented eighty years ago. When viewed through Hurston's ethnographic history, contemporary Black women's richly layered conjure practices disrupt the widely destructive effects of modernity.

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